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The Most Necessary of Virtues


“Love is the magician that pulls man out of his own hat.” ~ Ben Hecht

The Readings drawn from the 28 chapters that comprise the New Testament’s Acts of the Apostles during these Easter Days have certainly served as a fascinating window into the formational days of our church. There were growing pains of course, the occasional miscommunication, rumblings, power plays and other things of that nature. We saw for instance in Friday’s 1st Reading (Acts 15:22-31) some disharmony bubbling up in Antioch and Syria, regions that were relatively far away from Jerusalem. Yet the Holy Spirit was at work, moving mysteriously ~ as is its way ~ but always in full communion with God’s will. As we approach Pentecost Sunday, let us all take hope in the fact that the Holy Spirit will never allow Christ’s Bride the Church to be led astray.

In today’s 1st Reading (Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48), Peter delivers a divinely inspired message that nonetheless raised more than a few eyebrows. “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.” This was a radical proclamation for its time, but we are told that the Holy Spirit fell upon those who were on hand to receive it, prompting Peter to ask, rather rhetorically, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?” The Gentiles on hand would promptly be baptized as the early church continued to grow in both faith and number.

In today’s Gospel (John 15:9-17), a melding of both Thursday’s (John 15:9-11) and Friday’s passages (John 15:12-17) , we look in on Jesus as he implores his disciples to remain in his love. He knew that many would leave him. Many are in fact leaving today. Sadly there are many who have come to foster a greater love for the passing world and its fleeting pleasures than for the creator of the world and all that is in it.

When one abandons the faith, not only does he or she put their own soul in peril, but also those whom they were otherwise called to evangelize, a task handed on to them by virtue of the gift of faith that they have received, oftentimes through the love and charity of family or friends. Saint Anthony Mary Claret once said “Love is the most necessary of all virtues. Love in the person who preaches the word of God is like fire in a musket. If a person were to throw a bullet with his hands, he would hardly make a dent in anything; but if the person takes the same bullet and ignites some gunpowder behind it, it can kill. It is much the same with the word of God. If it is spoken by someone who is filled with the fire of charity - the fire of love of God and neighbor - it will work wonders.”

We are bombarded by advertisements touting “This is what the IRS doesn’t want you to know” or “This is what the credit card companies don’t want you to know.” In similar fashion it would seem as though the secular world doesn’t want you or me to know that only in Christ can men and women find answers to the ultimate questions that trouble them. Only in Christ can they fully understand their dignity as persons created and loved by God.

Saint Thomas Aquinas was always quick to point out that the things we love tell us what we are. Sinners tend to live vice. Saints in the other hand love God. And God is love (1 John 4:7-8). Let us strive to remain in Jesus so that he may remain in us. Let us love our neighbor as ourselves too, for as legendary author Kurt Vonnegut once said ”A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.” This intense love, the kind of which Saint Theresa of Calcutta would always speak of, does not just gives.

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